VITAL SIGNSrnRELIGIONrnCatholic Romernby Roberto de MattelrnSt. ‘I’homas Aquinas maintains tliatrnour intellect cannot grasp anthingrnexcept through our senses. Recognizingrnthis truth is esscndal to understanding therneit}’ of Rome and —beyond Ronrc —thernCatholic Church, because Rome meansrnnothing without the Chmch, and thernChurch loses her identit}’ if is deprived ofrnher Roman character.rnThe Church has five characteristics:rnShe is One, Holv, Catholic, and Apostolic,rnrhe final characterisfic both summarizesrnand condenses the previousrnones: The Church is Roman. Her Romanrncharacter is tantamount to thernChurch’s dimension as an insfitufion.rnThe most noble description of thernChurch is the Mysfical Body of Christ;rnthis definition refers to the spiritual andrnsupernatural dimension of the Church.rnBut the Church itself has a body, an historicalrninstitution that rcceies life fromrnher spirit but is as nccessan.- as the spirit tornthe life of the organism as a whole. Thisrninstitution is the papacv’.rnToday, much is said about the pope asrna person, and pediaps no other pope hasrnbeen the subject of as much literature asrnJohn Paul 11 —an exceptional figure, withrnsuch an overwhelming personalit)- that itrnmakes us forget about the institufion behindrnthe man. The imtitution is not thisrnor that pope but the papacy—establishedrnb- Jesus Christ to perpetuate His historicalrnmission unfil the end of fime.rnThe symbolic language of the Church —rnthe liturg—reminds us not only of herrnm’stical dimension but of her institutionalrndimension. A ritual dating back to therndavs of die early Church, the pontificalrncoronation (the imposition of the tiara afterrnthe election of the pope b’ the cardinalsrnin eonclac) best expresses thernessence and significance of tiie papacy asrnan institution.rnThe Catholic Church is a monarchicalrninstitution. Among the propheticrnwords in the Scriptures concerning ourrnLord, we find tiiat it was prophesied ofrnHim that He should be a king, that Hernshould rule the nations, that He shouldrnwear a crown. He transmitted His headshiprnand His office to the Church. Onernof die ]Driileges that He conferred uponrnHis icar was that lie, too, should wear arncrown.rnThe first coronation took place beforern.D. 700, and the ceremony ma’ daternback to the earl- Constantinian era. Thernlast pontifical coronation was that of PaulrnVI, on Jime ?0, 1963, nine days after hisrnelection. Among the first decisions PardrnVI made was the abolifion of the flahelli,rncanop’, gestatorial chair, and the tiara itselfrn—the er’ coronation ceremony.rnThe tiara is a cylindrical headdress,rnpointed at the top and surroimdcd bvrnthree crowns, which tiie pope wears as arnsymbol of so ercigntv. It ma- be derivedrnfrom the miter of the high priest of ancientrnIsrael, or it may be a transformafionrnof the Phrygian cap supposedly given bvrnConstantinc to Pope Silvester as symbolrnof the ncv- freedom of tiie Church.rnThe conic miter, or initra turhinata,rnwhich was worn bv the ante-Nicenernpopes, had a golden crown at its base.rnThis was eventually doubled to show thatrnthe pope had not onlv spiritual primacyrnbut the canonical right to invest the em-rn]Dcror. The third crown was added b thernAxignon pope to snibolize the Romanrnstate.rnTheologicalh’, the three crowns representrntlie papal power ocr the threernChurches (nulitant, piuiRing, and triumphant);rnand the threefold authoritv^ ofrndie Church (inagisterium, order, and jurisdiction);rnand the three missions exertedrnbv Jesus Christ as prophet, priest, andrnking. Inuring the coronation Alass, arnweek after the election, while the choirrnsang die anfiphon Corona aurea super caputrnems (“The crown of gold upon hisrnhead “), the cardinal remoxed the miterrnfrom die pope’s head. Then, coming tornthe front of the balcou}’, the cardinal replacedrnit with the papal tiara and addressedrnthe new pope with these words:rnReeei’e the tiara adorned w ith therndirce crow US and know that ou arerndie Fadier of princes and kings, diernSovereign of Hie wodd, and thernVicar on eardi of our Savior JesusrnChrist, to Whom is honor and glor-,rnnow and for ecr. Amen.rnThe pope’s coronation does not ereattrnhis audiorit)’; this begins at the niomenlrnhe accepts his election. Howeer, thernabolition of the coronation ccremonrncontributed to a diminution of the pontiffsrnpow er. This liturgical act incarnatesrnthe principle of pontifical sovereigntrnand expresses his suprenia majestasrn(supreme audiorit)) and pknitudo potestatisrn(the fidlness of power). What is diernfoundation of the pontifical sovcreigntrnexpressed by die coronation ceremony?rnChrist is the invisible Head of thernChurch. But since the Church wasrnfounded also as a visible societ’ on tinsrnearth, she was to have a visible head —diernviear of Christ. Jesus Christ accorded diisrngoerning power to a single person, placingrnSt. Peter as the foundation of HisrnChurch and tasking him with the go-rnernmentof all communities. The fulfillmentrnof Christ’s prophecy regarding diernchange of Simon’s name to Peter (whichrnin Creek means “rock” or “stone”) tookrnplace on a memorable occasion in CaesarearnPhilippi, when Jesus elearU’ expressedrnthe reason for the new name,rnpromising Peter supreme audioritx- oerrndie Church. As St. Mattliew writes:rnJesus saitli to diem: But who dornou say that I am? Simon Peter answeredrnand said: Thou art Christ,rndie Son of the living Cod. And Jesus,rnanswering, said to him: Blessedrnart dioii, Simon Bar-Jona; becausernfiesh and blood liadi not revealed itrnto dice, but mv Fadier who is inrnHeaven.rnThis confession is formally approvedrnand immediateh’ rewarded b^ our Lordrnwhen He replies (Matthew 16: 18-19):rn’I lion art Peter, and upon diis rockrnI will build m- Church, and therngates of Hell shall not prevailrnagainst her. And I will give untorndice the keys of die kingdom ofrnheaven, and whatsoever diou shaltrnbind on cardi will be bound inrnheaven, and whatsoex’cr diou shaltrnloose on earth will be loosed inrnliea’en.rnThe tradition of the Church has alwaysrnaffirmed that Peter, the fishermanrnfrom Galilee chosen b Christ to feedrn42/CHRONICLESrnrnrn